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29. Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress she is making in negotiating a derogation for the UK inshore fishing fleet, from this year's increase in fixed-net mesh sizes. 
Mr. Morley: Norway and the EU agreed last year to increase mesh sizes in fixed fishing gear from 1 January 2002. We have drawn the Commission's attention to the fact that Norway seems to have exempted its inshore fleet from this requirement. The Commission have raised this with the Norwegian authorities and are awaiting their response.
Mr. Morley: The Commission originally proposed large cuts for a wide range of total allowable catches, in many cases going further than science would justify. At the December Fisheries Council, after lengthy negotiations, we achieved an outcome which closely followed the scientific advice. This did not avoid severe measures where they were justified but met the UK's criticisms of what the Commission had proposed.
Mr. Morley: The review of the Common Fisheries Policy provides an opportunity to recognise the role of fishermen using selective and environmentally friendly fishing techniques. We raised this issue in our public response to the European Commission's Green Paper on the future of the CFP. We will look to support ways of encouraging low impact fishing in negotiations on the future of the CFP this year.
Mr. Morley: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 22 January 2002, Official Report, column 803W. I understand that the Environment Agency plans to consult on a preferred option for improved flood alleviation measure for Lewes in May. Subject to relevant consents and funding, the Agency hopes that work will commence in Lewes within 18 months.
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concerned. I understand that, since flooding occurred in October 2000, the Agency has repaired a bank that was overtopped and drawn the attention of Thames Water Utilities to concerns about surface water drains. The Agency has also commissioned consultants to prepare a flood defence strategy for the Roding catchment with a view to identifying sustainable defence options.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to improve protection against flooding; and what assistance she is giving to those affected by recent floods. 
Mr. Morley: The flood and coastal defence operating authorities have major programmes of work throughout the country to reduce flood risk, supported by ever increasing Government funding. DEFRA support for flood and coastal defence will increase by over 70 per cent. from £66 million in 200001 to £114 million in 200304. The overall annual expenditure on flood and coastal defence in England now exceeds £400 million.
34. Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the rate of progress in achieving the Government's targets on air pollution. 
Mr. Meacher: We are broadly on track to meet our policy objectives for carbon monoxide, benzene, 1,3 butadiene, lead and sulphur dioxide, but we will need to do more to meet our targets for nitrogen dioxide, particles and ozone. Emissions of most pollutants have fallen over the last decade, and levels of air pollution are falling steadily in most urban areas of the UK. The headline air quality indicator, which gives the total number of days of poor air quality recorded each year through our national monitoring network, shows a steady reduction in the total number of days of poor urban air quality from 59 days in 1993 (when the dataset began) to 21 days in 2001. The pattern in rural areas is less clear since the main pollutant in rural areas is ozone, which is strongly influenced by the weather and by emissions of ozone precursors in continental Europe.
Mr. Meacher: The UK Fuel Poverty Strategy, published in November last year, set out the Government's goal to seek and end to fuel poverty, with the first target to ensure that by 2010, no vulnerable household need risk ill health due to a cold home.
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Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many farm animals have been slaughtered since 30 September 2001; and what the reasons for their slaughter were. 
Mr. Morley: In total 6,113 animals have been slaughtered since the last case of foot and mouth disease on 30 September 2001. These animals have been slaughtered as either dangerous contacts as a result of sero-positive blood samples or as slaughter on suspicion cases.
Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many public speeches on agriculture she has given since her appointment; and how many of them were made to audiences of farmers and those working in agriculture. 
Margaret Beckett: Since my appointment in June I have made three major speeches on agriculture, all to farming audiences. In addition I have made six other speeches, for example while on regional visits or on visits abroad, in which agricultural issues have been addressed. The audience for some of those speeches included farmers. I have also attended six Agriculture Councils and spoke at last December's EU conference on FMD in Brussels.
Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will consider making Environment Agency funding to improve angling opportunities dependent on improving access for non-powered craft to the same waters. 
Alun Michael: It is difficult to see how this would work. The Government provide grant-in-aid to meet the general duty of maintaining, improving and developing fisheries rather than to improve angling opportunities specifically. There is no specific requirement to improve angling opportunities when doing recreation or navigation work that benefits non-powered craft.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reason the scheme that provided a free collection service of plastic sheeting for farmers was stopped; and what the cost of the scheme was in its last 12 months. 
Mr. Meacher: A self-financing voluntary scheme for the collection of farm plastics operated between 1994 and 1997. The scheme operated by charging producers of farm plastics a levy of £100 per tonne. I understand that the scheme collapsed because some importers of this material refused to participate. Collection of farm plastics is still carried out by a small number of local voluntary schemes.
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Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what environmental inspections are made of (a) contaminated, (b) radiated and (c) toxic material associated with the Ministry of Defence and defence equipment plants. 
It is the policy of the Ministry of Defence to comply with all environmental legislation and only to invoke exemptions from such legislation where compliance would adversely affect military operations. Issues of pollution prevention and control, including those related to contaminated, radioactive and toxic material, are addressed within the framework of the Department's overarching safety management system.
Guidance on the management of safety and environmental protection in the Ministry of Defence, including liaison with pollution control authorities and other regulatory bodies on inspections of our sites, and any activities which may impact on the environment, is published in Joint Service Publication (JSP) 418 (the Environment Manual). JSP 392 (Instructions for Radiation Protection) an JSP 375 (the MOD Health and Safety Handbook) also contain guidance and information on these issues. Copies of these three publications are in the Library of the House.
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